Death

Serving God on Earth: A Unique Opportunity

Written for The Body Builder, the church newsletter of Highland Park Church. Used by permission.

We have recently seen a number of our dear folks promoted to glory. It is hard to say “goodbye” to loved ones, even if we know they know the Lord and are happier than they have ever been.

Believers in heaven are rejoicing before the throne of God, serving Him night and day. Revelation 7:13-17 describes a scene in heaven, perhaps referring mainly to believers who will be martyred during the coming seven-year Tribulation:

Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

I answered, “Sir, you know.”

And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore,

   “they are before the throne of God
   and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
   will shelter them with his presence.
 ’Never again will they hunger;
   never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
   nor any scorching heat.
 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
   will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
   ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” (NIV 2011)

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Musings From a Country Cemetery

Reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections. The text appears here verbatim.

A forgotten country cemetery sits atop a windswept hill not far down the gravel road from where my parents used to live. While living at home, my attention was always drawn in the opposite direction of that cemetery.

In the other direction was “town.” School, friends, athletic events, parades, concerts, restaurants, church—everything exciting was in that direction. But as the years passed and occasion afforded a brief visit home, my interests were strangely drawn toward that quiet graveyard. On occasion I would walk there and stroll among the tombstones.

Bordered by a shallow creek and cow pasture, nestled among a few gnarly trees, this little cemetery is one lonely place. I never saw another person there. There is no marquee, driveway or parking lot. No flowers, shrubs, benches, sidewalks or manicured lawn. Nor are there any impressive monuments—just simple, weathered tombstones rising in obscurity from the prairie grass. Some of the stones, as if too weary to stand any longer in their struggle against time, have been toppled over and rest on top of the graves they mark.

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Until Death Do Us Part

by Pastor Dan Miller

Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections. It appears here verbatim.
1120381_romantique.jpgOn Palm Sunday, 1996, a young couple visited our church. That was the first day in a seven year saga no words could justly recount, but let me try.

Brandon and Jennifer were perfect together. They were full of life: energetic, focused, self-disciplined, in great physical shape and in love.

Contemplating marriage, they had determined to do things right, which involved the sticky business of finding a common religion. Hailing from different backgrounds they began an earnest study of their childhood religions. But after nearly a year of investigation they had accumulated more questions than answers.

Following that Palm Sunday service, they asked if I would be willing to meet with them to answer a few questions. Two days later we met at my office. According to Jennifer’s later recollection, I held a Bible in my hand and assured them at the start of our session that in this book we could find the answer to every spiritual question.

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The Destiny of Those Who Die in Infancy

Note: This article is reprinted from The Faith Pulpit (May/June 1999), a publication of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary (Ankeny, IA). It appears here with some slight editing.

1154950_one_week_old_baby.jpgIntroduction:

In this paper an attempt will be made to show what the Bible teaches about the destiny of those who die in infancy. In order to accomplish this purpose, the major views on this subject will be presented followed by an examination of the biblical material.

The Major Views:

Infants who die in infancy unbaptized do not go to heaven: In Roman Catholic theology there is no official dogma on the destiny of dead unbaptized infants. Nevertheless, the weight of tradition teaches that they go to a place called limbo, which is neither heaven nor hell, a place of natural happiness but without full communion with God. Cf. Limbo: Unsettled Quesion by George J. Dyer (NY: Sheed & Ward, 1964) or Encyclopedia of Theology, edited by Karl Rahner (NY: The Seabury Press, 1975), pp. 850-851.

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Fourteen Reasons for Fourteen Years?

Jason with JeremyFourteen years ago, my brother was hit by a truck. This past week, after living in a persistent vegetative state for all this time, he went home to be with the Lord. I shared the following at his memorial service on August 14, 2008. (Follow this link to view a YouTube tribute that was played at the memorial service.)

After Jeremy’s accident, I wrote a gospel tract entitled “Why?” that answered the basic questions the average person has when he undergoes trials. Now, fourteen years later, I find myself asking the same question, but in a different way. I was satisfied with the answers from God fourteen years ago, but why did God keep him around for fourteen years? Some people would say Jeremy was a drain on society and had a terrible quality of life. And at weary times, we are susceptible to all such tempting thoughts. In fact, I can say for the family this morning that in a way, a weight has been lifted. A fourteen-year weight. However, if we don’t answer that question, we are gathered here today as fools, trying to find meaning in a wasteland.

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"Why would Jesus let us die? Doesn't He love us?"

Yesterday, I preached at the funeral of a very dear friend. Over the last 10 years, Cindy had become “family” to me, my wife, and our four daughters. For six of those years, she battled cancer valiantly and selflessly. On Sunday afternoon, Cindy finally won: the cancer is dead, and Cindy is in the presence of the Lord whom she loved, proclaimed, and served. She death_to_break.jpgenjoyed gazing on Christ from afar, but now she is doing so face-to-face. Victory!

To be honest, however, my heart aches. I feel almost schizophrenic—I have sincere joy for Cindy, but I also have a deep sorrow over the temporary loss of one so dear to me and to those I love. Sure, I’m not sorrowing “as those who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13), but I am sorrowing nonetheless.

As I spent extended time with Cindy’s family over the last few weeks, I had several opportunities to explain why God would allow such suffering to enter and end the life of one who loved Him so. The question faced me again last night as my five-year-old, with tears streaming down her face, told me, “I miss Miss Cindy.” She wept and surprised me with two very penetrating questions: “Why would Jesus let us die? Doesn’t He love us?”

How would you answer that?

I explained to her that Jesus absolutely loves us. “How much does He love us, Dear?”

“So much that He died for our sins,” she answered.

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